Actor Leonardo DiCaprio reportedly used his non-profit to award funds to dark money groups, which then funneled the money to a law firm that files nuisance climate-related lawsuits.
Communications between philanthropist Dan Emmett and University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) climate professor Ann Carlson revealed that they worked with law firm Sher Edling to raise money to sue oil companies over alleged climate change deception, according to Fox News Digital. Emmett told Carlson in 2018 that she could tell prospective donors that the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation had become “serious supporters” of Sher Edling’s ongoing litigation, Fox continued.
The lawsuits filed by Sher Edling were said to be supported by the Collective Action Fund for Accountability, Resilience, and Adaptation at the time, Fox News reported noted. This fund was managed by the Resources Legacy Fund (RLF), a dark money group, according to Fox News.
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Emmett and Carlson reportedly discussed how Sher Edling’s director of strategic client relationships, Chuck Savitt, had sought support from the philanthropist, noting that they had received such financial support from DiCaprio’s foundation CEO, Terry Tamminen, between 2016 and 2019, the outlet continued.
“Chuck Savitt who is heading this new organization behind the lawsuits has been seeking our support,” Emmett reportedly wrote in an email to Carlson on July 22, 2017. “Terry Tamminen in his new role with the DiCaprio Foundation has been a key supporter.”
The emails were sent roughly two months prior to the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation’s announcement of $20 million in grants for various climate and conservation efforts, Fox News reported. The announcement was subsequently deleted, but archives shared by Fox News show that the RLF received funding “to support precedent-setting legal actions to hold major corporations in the fossil fuel industry liable.”
Sher Edling received more than $5.2 million from RLF between 2017 and 2020, Fox News continued. The firm predominantly filed suits on behalf of cities and states, including California, Delaware, Minnesota, Rhode Island, New York City, Washington D.C., San Francisco, Baltimore, and Honolulu against major oil companies.
“Wanted to let you know that we filed the first three lawsuits supported by the Collective Action Fund on Monday,” Savitt told Emmett in one of the emails reviewed by Fox News.
Savitt reportedly wrote that, “these precedent setting cases call on 37 of the world’s leading fossil fuel companies to take responsibility for the devastating damage sea level rise – caused by their greenhouse gas emissions – is having on coastal communities.”
Carlson, now a senior Biden administration official, exchanged the emails with Emmett while co-director of UCLA’s Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, Fox News continued. The Government Accountability and Oversight (GOA) office obtained the correspondence between the parties, the outlet noted.
“Obviously, the donors created — including DiCaprio — several purported arms’ lengths,” attorney Chris Horner, who is representing GAO in the case involving the emails, told Fox News Digital. “This model used a couple of pass-throughs, by which DiCaprio and, it appears, Dan Emmett and others could run things, including DiCaprio’s foundation and Resources Legacy Fund, and they’re not seen as financing the assault.”
The MacArthur Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, JPB Foundation, and William and Flora Hewlett Foundation have donated to the Collective Action Fund since 2017, Fox News reported. (RELATED: EARTH DAY: New Study Shows Many Protected Areas Don’t Benefit Wildlife)
“From 2017 to 2020, Sher Edling received grants from RLF to pursue charitable activities to hold fossil fuel companies accountable for the accuracy of information they had disseminated to consumers and the public about the role their products played in causing climate change,” RLF spokesperson Mark Kleinman told Fox News Digital via email. “RLF receives support from many funding entities, and its board of directors and staff make all decisions as to where the funding goes,” the spokesperson noted.
Sher Edlings, Emmett, Tamminen, and Earth Alliance, an organization that absorbed the Leo DiCaprio Foundation in 2019, did not respond to Fox News or Daily Caller requests for comment.